The human experience. A topic that has been covered for centuries through the art of literature, film and theatre. Jennifer Jackson is the most recent addition to this train of thought, this time polarising towards the power of endurance.
“Endurance is a piece of performance that I’ve been making for a little while, and it culminated in what you could consider a piece of theatre, dance or performance. I really wanted to capture what it meant to endure just both in the sort of emotional, and psychological way, but also the physicality and the grit of endurance sports.”
Jackson confessed she wanted to capture the broader aspect of the human experience, using both her own adventures but encounters she’s had with other women she has been running with.
Endurance sports, like ultrarunning, is a growing sport, especially among women. Studies have shown that more women are becoming involved in the sport and are matching if not exceeding male athletes.
“I’m not an ultra runner, but I’m trying to capture that mode. The idea of someone running for 24 hours or more feels so epic; so I’m trying to capture that and put that in a stage space for an audience. I think is quite challenging because the time is finite, because you only have, like, an hour or an hour and a half to tell the story. I wanted to get into that kind of meditative state, but also that kind of thing of meeting yourself, and I’m quite interested in that. So the performance as a whole centres, around running, really, and women’s bodies in running.”
Jackson states her inspiration for the performance came when she was experiencing some hardships in her life. After she lost her dad to cancer, she had been “falling in and out of love with running,” and was looking for something different when she moved to Manchester in 2018.
“I found that those periods of time when I was out became the time to process everything and that actually got me through, and it got me thinking about how running is a metaphor for life.”
Jackson is a movement practitioner and theatre maker who often works with both professional actors and non-professional performers and children. Her particular interest focuses on how much physical space women take up in society and how it is curtailed.
Her inclusion in Judo from a young age confirmed this interest, and how sports can be used as a way to create embodied confidence. She said: “I realised that not all of my peers had an experience where they were allowed to kind of wrestle or use their body weight that wasn’t using their body weight in a way that was not hiding. It basically really using it. And you seen the benefit of your body and seeing your body as a tool.”
Endurance centres on the spirit of the human body through the eyes of a bi-racial woman. Her exploration of the grit of endurance sport discusses the importance of female bodies in society, how we take up space and how running can be a metaphor for an ever-changing existence.
However, Jackson ensures this piece isn’t just for women. She said: “I hope they come away feeling that they’ve been included because on the bottom line, I’m a human being running. I’m really trying to explore that sense that running can, in this context, is a metaphor for life and for the journey of life. Everything you hear is projected on the back wall and designed really beautifully.
“So there’s this kind of, like, cinematic kind of container that I’m being held in. It feels quite universal, and there are a few moments where you really feel the gender of me, the runner inside the piece. At those moments, I hope there’s a moment of like, ‘oh, it’s not like that for me,’ a moment of recognition that sort of half the population has to really think about.”
Endurance is currently on at the HOME theatre in Manchester.
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